Host Leahy and Dr. Carol Swain Discuss the Probability of the District of Columbia Becoming a State and the Invocation of the 25th Amendment

Host Leahy and Dr. Carol Swain Discuss the Probability of the District of Columbia Becoming a State and the Invocation of the 25th Amendment


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist, Dr. Carol Swain, to the studio to discuss the possibility and the ways in which the District of Columbia could achieve statehood and invocation of the 25th Amendment.

Leahy: In studio all-star panelist Carol Swain. Carol, you were talking about this movement to grant statehood to the District of Columbia which by the way 95 percent voted for Joe Biden and 5 percent for Donald Trump. Population about 700,000. A little short of 10 square miles. Here’s what the Constitution says about this. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17.

The Congress shall have the power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district not exceeding 10-mile square as made by the succession of particular states in the acceptance of Congress become the seat of the government of the United States. So the Constitution says that then Article 4, Section 3.

New states may be admitted by the Congress into this Union, but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states without the consent of the legislature of the state’s concerned as well as of the Congress. To me, Carol that looks like it would be unconstitutional for Congress to pass a law making the District of Columbia a state. What do you think?

Swain: Well, I think that they would have to amend the Constitution. And if you’ve been to D.C. lately, and I’ve been there in December it’s just devastated. You walk down the streets where you used to shop and there are boarded-up buildings. And everywhere there are black lives matter signs. and we have Black Lives Matter Plaza.

You go to Union Station and I used to love to go there and Shop. It was like a mall. It looks like a ghost town. I think there were two stores where they sold clothes. and they were big box stores. And so there’s no evidence that the leaders of D.C. can actually run it. I mean the Congress run by Democrats is a disaster. But until someone that thinks like a true Republican is in a leadership role in Congress that D.C. is just devastated. It needs more direction from Congress.

Leahy: Oh, yes. I think what we’ll see is a District of Columbia statehood act. It’ll be introduced. It will be very close. And then if it passes and is signed into law, there will immediately be a federal challenge. I think it goes to the Supreme Court and I think they say no. That’s what I think will happen.

Swain: It’s always been a perennial issue ever since I was in graduate school and maybe before to make a D.C. a state. But D.C. was a place where I loved to visit. I’m sure many other people looked forward to going at least once a year. I dread it when I have to go there again.

Leahy: Yeah, I understand.

Swain: It’s very unsafe.

Leahy: We have another constitutional question from our caller and listener Don in Nashville. Don, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Caller Don: Good morning guys. I have a comment and I have a question about Joe Biden. But I wanted to give Parler some advice. They need to call Hillary because she’s really good about setting up new websites. (Laughter)

Leahy: Now that’s a good one Don.

Don: She’s good about servers. But my question is will the Democratic Party turn on Joe when after he gets done with all this and things start going real bad and they invoke the 25th Amendment on it and then start blaming him? Well, Joe didn’t know any better. And start blaming all the downfall on him? And I’ll hang up and let y’all answer that.

Leahy: Great. And the 25th Amendment says whenever the president transmits to the Senate his written declaration he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such powers and duties shall be discharged by the vice-president.

But the next section says whenever the vice president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may provide by law when they tell the president pro-tem that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office of the vice president shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office of acting president. Do you see that in our future?

Swain: Well for one thing there’s no reason to get rid of Joe Biden as long as he is carrying out the agenda of the far left. If he were to start making deals with Republicans and governing in a bipartisan fashion they would be looking for a way to remove him from office. Many of us believe that the long-term plan of the Democrats is to install Kamala as the first female president.

She can’t call herself the first Black president nor could she call herself the first Black American president. but she could be the first female. and so I don’t know how that would come about. I think as long as Joe is doing what they want, he’s safe.

Leahy: I think Kamala Harris wants to be president. And notice what the Constitution says. Whenever the vice president and a majority of the principal officers of the executive departments transmitted to the president pro tem of the Senate they’re written declaration the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office the vice president shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting president.

Look, I don’t think that is that far away from a possibility frankly. because you look at it and it says a majority of the principal officers of the executive departments. That’s considered the cabinet. But I could argue that it’s maybe just the most important cabinet.

Swain: Well I’m standing on my position that as long as he’s carrying out the will of the political left and signing all the executive order executive orders and things that they want, they will continue to protect him. Because he’s not 100 percent there now. But at some point the play I believe is to make Kamala the first female president. She’d never get elected by the voters.

Leahy: Never.

Swain: And so that’s the only way it’s going to happen.

Leahy: Yeah, if I had to guess whether or not we’ll see a 25th Amendment effort either with his cooperation or without, I would say the odds are probably fairly good.

Swain: I agree.

Leahy: At least 50/50 that this will happen over the next four years.

Listen to the second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio








Tennessee State Rep. Jason Zachary Discusses Upcoming Special and Legislative Sessions Focus on Education and Medicaid Block Grant

Tennessee State Rep. Jason Zachary Discusses Upcoming Special and Legislative Sessions Focus on Education and Medicaid Block Grant


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed (R) TN State Representative Jason Zachary to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, Zachary discussed next week’s special and legislative sessions that will focus on learning laws and how Tennessee will prepare to be the first state in the nation to use the block grant initiated by President Trump. He described his roles as being part of the ad hoc committee regarding executive powers and that he will be going after unelected health boards that are attacking individual liberty.

Leahy: And on the newsmaker line state representative Jason Zachary. Good morning Representative Zachary.

Zachary: Good morning. How are you guys?

Leahy: I’m great. You may not recall this but you and I first met in 2013-2014 up in Maryville when you were running for Congress, I believe. And I was organizing the Beat Lamar campaign. Do you remember that?

Zachary: I do absolutely I believe it was even at the Blount County Library.

Leahy: Yes! You are exactly right. It was at the Blount County library and you have had quite a career since then very conservative member of the State House of Representatives here in Tennessee. What is the big agenda issue that you see in both the special session on education and in the regular session and thereafter?

Zachary: Sure. Well interestingly enough This is my fourth term and we are actually starting at a faster pace right now than we’ve ever started. Committees actually are going to be meeting today. We have something that most Tennesseans because of everything that’s gone on nationally most of what we’re doing right now is not getting attention. But we are getting ready to be the first state in the nation to move forward with a block grant from Medicaid.

The president approved that. We actually suspended the rules yesterday to be able to hear that in committee and walk that through the process. That will be an all-day endeavor for us here in the legislature. And that’s big news. But in terms of next week’s special session, I’m glad the governor’s done it because it really gives us the ability to focus on learning laws and focus on BEP funding especially for a county like my Knox County.

We are a donor county so we would take a significant loss with students not being in the classroom this year for BEP funding. We’ve got students and teachers that have just my wife’s a teacher. She’s a middle school teacher and the incredible stress that they’re under just keeping the doors open. So we’re going to address testing and holding schools and teachers harmless as we kind of walk through this.

Still providing accountability, but holding them harmless. It’s an important step to take and to get this off the table. Some of these steps we usually don’t take until May of the session. So it’s good to be able to take this now. But overall in terms of a special session when we come back probably that first week of February just from my perspective it’s really just doing what we’ve done since I’ve been here.

It’s making sure we do the best we can to limit government and limit regulation. Keep taxes low and keep spending under control. We’ve done a great job with that over the last 10 years and the record kind of speaks for itself. But we’ve got bigger work to do especially with this pandemic kind of hanging over everything that we do.

I’ve chaired the ad hoc committee regarding executive powers. And then I’m going after these unelected health boards that are attacking liberty and are big areas like it’s never been done before. Those are those that will be the two big things I’m involved in.

Leahy: Last night Murray County Mayor sent a letter to the governor and to the speaker and to the lieutenant and two members of the House and Senate and said look Facebook, Google, Twitter Amazon are stifling free speech. The state has some Authority here. There are $70 billion under management and invested by the state. He wants the state to divest of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon stock. And also to stop advertising with Google, Facebook, and Twitter. What do you make of that proposal?

Zachary: Well, I think that we have an oligarchy of tech companies that have been enabled by our federal government through Section 230. And it’s not something that has been talked about much. And I believe that indirectly the federal government is able to able to launch an assault on the First Amendment. I know some people have said well, it’s the first amendment, free speech and the First Amendment doesn’t really apply because it’s not government.

I completely disagree. What I have done through The Heritage Foundation and is more reading on Section 230. And I believe it’s Section 230 in Section ACB and it specifically says that through Section 230 they have certain protections and immunities. It references them as internet companies because back, when this was passed there wasn’t a Google and there wasn’t a social media and there wasn’t Amazon.

But it specifically says the internet companies are allowed to censor constitutionally protected speech. It says that specifically. I even Tweeted that a couple of days ago. And so the federal government is indirectly coming after the first amendment and working to silence us through that. I truly believe that. And these tech companies are leading the way. And if we have tech companies that are more powerful than the president of the United States then that’s a problem.

So I appreciate Andy. I know Andy, I appreciate him drafting that letter. We had a little bit of conversation about that this week. I think that will probably ramp up. We had an organizational period. And again we spent which never happens. We spent hours on the House floor yesterday going through this Medicaid block grant that we’ve got that we’re working to get past.

So I believe those conversations will ramp up after we get through this. And I’ve already had some conversations with various departments about where we stand as a state with those tech companies and absolutely it’s something that needs to be addressed. I’m glad he wrote the letter.

Swain: Now what are you all doing to prepare for the assault from the left? Because we know what the Biden administration, we already see it with the media and the local media. They’re willing to lie and distort when it serves their purposes. They will come full force against you guys. Have you planned your strategy?

Zachary: Yes, Carol. That’s a great question. It’s interesting you ask that because actually the governor and I were texting about that a couple of days ago and about firewalling the state of Tennessee. What steps do we need to take and what planning needs to be done even above and beyond what we typically do to firewall us from the federal government.

So if three, four, or five months from now, they come to us and say these are the steps that you need to take and we say no as Tennessee and we’re not going to take those steps because we’re not going to be complicit with a government that will probably be initiating a socialist agenda and try to continue to strip away our Constitution. Tennesseans are not going to be complicit with that.

Swain: Well that’s the problem. But the other part is that when you’re dealing with the Medicaid block grant and these other issues the left is going to come at you full force as far as the media. Do you have a plan as far as selling your ideas to the public so that they will not be distorted by the left?

Zachary: We do. actually yeah we had a caucus meeting and discussed that yesterday specific to the Medicaid block grant program. Here are just the quick details. So it’s basically a block grant that comes to us from Medicaid and it gives us incredible flexibility. Right now we have what could buy what most publications considered one of the top five run Medicaid programs in the country. Ours is TennCare.

But right now when we are not rewarded or incentivized to save and steward resources well. So we can save money. But we as Tennesseans don’t get to participate in those savings. So now what this block grant does is they provide us with the block grant with just a few requirements versus the incredible strings and entanglements were under now. But any savings that we incur we’re able to keep half that money versus sending it all back to the federal government.

Swain: The part that you keep, are you able to use it for medical expenses? Because we know that there are increased costs that relate to the elderly and those costs will probably be increasing rather than decreasing because of the age of the population. So, how will the savings be used?

Zachary: Yes ma’am that’s a great question. That was going to be my very next point. It will give us the ability to do is enhance the services within Medicaid. During the pandemic that role has grown by 100,000 Tennesseans have been added to the Medicaid program. But with the additional savings, it will allow us to give enhanced services. It will allow if we chose to do so to increase the various populations that we’re servicing.

Provide a higher quality of healthcare because of that savings. It will give us much more flexibility to run it the Tennessee way. But it won’t cost more money to us or the federal government because we will be much more efficient. Because we don’t have the entanglements and requirements of the federal government. Something we talked about yesterday Carol, in talking about messaging. I’ve already started getting emails about it.

So many continue to bang that Medicaid expansion drum. Which thank the Lord we did not take that step. That was just before I got here. But if you were for Medicaid expansion and you are on the left, yesterday we had two hours of Democrats railing against this. How could we do this? How could we take this step with a block grant? If you are for Medicaid expansion you should absolutely be for this block grant because it will allow us to service Tennesseans better under Medicaid.

But it will allow us in the Tennessee way to expand populations if we chose to do so without the entanglements and the cost associated with what would have been Medicaid expansion. We’re going to be so much more efficient in the way we run the program that we will be able to serve larger populations in some respects if we chose to do so. It doesn’t mean we have to. The rolls have swollen to 100,000 over the last year and we’ve been able to walk and manage through that.

Leahy: Jason Zachary. Thank you so much for joining us today. Very enlightening.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio








President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell Shines a Light on 31 Years of Successful Homeschooling Options for Parents

President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell Shines a Light on 31 Years of Successful Homeschooling Options for Parents


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed President and CEO of Bridgeway Academy Jessica Parnell to the newsmakers line to discuss her company’s 31 years in successful homeschooling options for parents and their children.

Leahy: And on our newsmaker line Jessica Parnell with The Homeschool Academy. I guess it’s called Bridgeway Academy. Doing some great stuff in the field of education. Jessica, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Parnell: Thank you. Michael. It’s great to be here.

Leahy: Tell us about the home school academy and I guess it’s called your company’s called what Edovate and Bridgeway is the over program that is involved in this? Tell us about this.

Parnell: Sure. Edovate learning program is our parent company. And under that we have actually three different divisions that serve homeschoolers. Bridgeway Academy is one. And then we also have, which is a fantastic online resource for parents to help provide education in a different way for their students. and then we have curriculum Express which is a curriculum warehouse where parents or schools can order curriculum directly delivered to their home and homeschool independently.

Leahy: Now, you’ve been in business for how long?

Parnell: We have been in business for 31 years.

Leahy: No kidding. That’s a long time to be in this space. If somebody’s homeschooling. How does this work? What would they do to take advantage of what your offerings are?

Parnell: Sure. I think the first step that a parent needs to make when they consider homeschooling is to just ensure that they’re willing to be involved in the education process. The reason we see such success in home education is because the parents are engaged and they’re working with their children. So if they’re interested and want to know more about home education they can certainly give us a call here at Bridgeway Academy. They can check out our blog post with all sorts of articles and how to’s on getting started.

But first again commit to the time involved. And then you want to get to know your child because the beauty of homeschooling is you are tailoring education to your child and what works for them. There is no one-size-fits-all in home education. And that’s the number one reason why home way homeschoolers just do so well.

Leahy: Now online I’m looking at is that the official Bridgeway website?

Parnell: Yes it is.

Leahy: Now what is the cost of this program? If any homeschoolers out there are interested in doing this, how much does it cost?

Parnell: Well, that’s a tough question because we have so many different programs with Bridgeway Academy. Parents can choose to homeschool independently and there in Tennessee there are local organizations that can help them. So some parents that choose to do independently and they simply purchase their curriculum from us or they purchase our customized placement process, which is where we test the students learning style.

We get to know their personality style. We look at the ideal environment. We talked with parents and we understand the Dynamics of that home. And then we design a home education program that meets all of those factors as well as what the student wants to do as they look into the future. And then they can do that. They can take that package and work independently or with a local organization.

And that complete kit with all of that consulting and the curriculum for the school year runs at about $900. Now a parent can also choose to enroll fully with Bridgeway Academy where we support them all year long. They have a personal go-to person a one-on-one person that works with them all year long, keeps their records for them, and helps them when a student doesn’t understand something.

And they have that support all year long. And that varies by grade level. But on our website, as you said you can type in Bridgeway Academy, or you can type in there on that website and Just select the Bridgeway Academy program and you can get a look at all of the options as well as the pricing.

Leahy: And now is your curriculum delivered just sort of it online in sort of a PDF format or is it YouTube? How is it delivered?

Parnell: It’s delivered again in variety. There are some families who don’t want any online education. And so we provide them with a full textbook program. We have families who want everything online and in which case it is a variety of media support for those programs. The learning is online. And then we have families who want live online so they can actually have their students jump on with teachers and students from around the world and take it. And once a week, they meet once a week or once or twice a week depending on the grade level and then they work independently offline for the remainder of the week.

Leahy: Now since the pandemic have you seen an increase in participation in your program?

Parnell: We sure have yes. We’ve had many families just looking for an option. Some because they just didn’t even want to consider school. Some because they were unhappy because in the spring semester when they started to see what was being taught in the school whether that was they didn’t think it was enough for they were concerned about the agenda underneath the lessons. Or they just thought their kid was either behind or ahead of what was being taught. They were looking for another option. So we did see a big bump going into this new school year.

Leahy: So online schooling in public schools has been widely panned as being ineffective. I don’t think anybody that I’ve seen has praised the public school online experience. And yet it looks like your online experience has been increasingly well-received. What are the main differences?

Parnell: Well, I think first it is the experience. So we’ve been doing this for so many years that the pandemic wasn’t a surprise to us. And we have public school teachers that are extremely excellent teachers that just want the best for their kids but are thrown into something that’s brand new to them and they’re doing what they can but it was new and it was something they’re still trying to navigate whereas with Bridgeway Academy we’ve been doing this for 31 years. We’ve been in online education since the really early 2000s. And we’ve learned a thing or two along the way and have been able to really tailor that online experience to what works in this home education setting.

Leahy: Now how many students do you serve around the country in K-12?

Parnell: Complete total numbers were close to 10,000 students that are fully enrolled in Bridgeway Academy where we are supporting them every step of the way. We are just about at 3,000.

Leahy: And now you have a K-12 program. what has been the college entry experience of graduates of Bridgeway Academy? Also online at homeschool

Parnell: I’m glad you asked. Our students are very well-received. We’ve had them into the Ivy League schools to State schools to private schools and actually recruited by many schools for their academic achievements. As well as many of them because of the freedom of homeschooling have an opportunity to do some amazing things while they’re still in high school.

We’ve had individuals start special chapters of organizations. We’ve had one actually discovered from a new and I don’t know chemistry well, but some new chemical formula, and she was heavily recruited by other schools. And they have the ability to pursue their personal excellence while they’re in high school. And it really helps really hone them as they look to the future as well.

Leahy: Now you’re based in Pennsylvania, but this is available nationally correct? Every state including Tennessee?

Parnell: Every state including Tennessee and around the world.

Leahy: Interesting. What is the impact on charter school students? What relationship do you have with students in charter schools?

Parnell: Well we actually have a few partnerships with some charter schools that were looking for assistance with this home education model. So we actually provide some live classes for several charter schools. We also provide a curriculum for them with that home education focus. And we have one public school that actually also takes care of their homeschooling through us so that they can have that very homeschool focus.

Leahy: Very interesting. Carol Swain is a former professor at Vanderbilt and leader in education Innovation. She’s in studio with us. Carol you have any questions for Jessica?

Swain: I’m a proponent of homeschooling and I think every parent engages in homeschooling when they interact with their children. It can be positive or negative. And I’m I see the upswing or interest in homeschooling as one of the positives that have come out of the pandemic

Parnell: Yes, I would definitely agree. And I think you were the individual who said earlier that we need people that stand on principle. We have many that do it for that reason. So it’s exciting to see parents saying, you know I can do this better and I’m going to commit my energies to my children to make sure that their future is wide open.

Leahy: Jessica Parnell, CEO of Edovate and Bridgeway Academy on the web at Thanks for joining us and we hope you come back sometime.

Parnell: Thank you and it was good to be here.

Listen to the third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jessica Parnell” by Bridgeway.







The Tennessee Star Sr. Reporter Laura Baigert Gives First Hand Account of Trump Rally Held Wednesday Afternoon in Washington

The Tennessee Star Sr. Reporter Laura Baigert Gives First Hand Account of Trump Rally Held Wednesday Afternoon in Washington


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmakers line to describe what she experienced on the ground at Wednesday’s Trump rally in Washington.

Leahy: We’re joined now on the line by Laura Baigert of the Tennessee Star who stayed in D.C.  Welcome to the Tennessee Star Report. Tell us your experience at the rally and subsequently. Good morning Laura.

Baigert: Good morning, Michael. Good morning, Carol. It’s good to hear your voices.

Swain: Good morning.

Leahy: So tell us about the rally and what you saw during the rally and after.

Baigert: We left our hotel, about a little after 7:00 a.m., and took the subway up to the Ellipse Park area. The park itself was closed off and you have to go through secret service, but we stood in a large field like outside of that fenced-in area where there was a monitor there. When we first got there there were people but within a very short period of time this field and everywhere around that we could see, no one could move. We were just stuck there like a Times Square type of New Year’s Eve event. It’s hard to describe.

Those of you who have been to these kinds of rallies know. But if you haven’t been to one, there is love and camaraderie. Everybody had signs and flags. And it was just great. And then, you know people were cheering and chanting USA. Then the speakers came out. Very calm, peaceful, and very very cold. We stood there for more than an hour waiting for the President to come out.

Leahy: He gave a speech and what was your reaction to that speech?

Baigert: Honestly, I think people thought it went a little too long and we were freezing. And we were probably hoping for a little bit more action and that we’ve done the talking and so forth. But we were hoping for something more definitive. But course, you know, we love our President. And so everybody was enthralled to have him out there. And he spoke for more than an hour. So that was a pretty impressive thing for him to come out like that and to spend that much time there. And then he said let’s walk together down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

Leahy: CNN is reporting that he incited violence. Did you hear him incite any violence?

Baigert: No. Not even close to anything like that. He never said anything that was like that or that would even imply something like that unless you were trying to read into something. Not even that. I don’t know how anybody could say something like that.

Swain: Laura, I noticed that he actually said we were going to walk peacefully to the Capitol.

Baigert: Peacefully. And walk together. It was a walk. It wasn’t like we were going to storm down there. He didn’t say anything like that.

Leahy: So how long did it take you to walk from the the mall down to the Capitol? And what did you see? And when did you first learn that the Capitol had been breached?

Baigert: Okay, so it probably took more than half an hour. We walked down Constitution Avenue because we were kind of in the middle of the field. So when you came out of the field you landed right on Constitution Avenue. And as we crossed all of the cross streets we could see as many people walking on Pennsylvania Avenue and then on the other parallel street in the other direction.

We were probably 20 people wide walking and it probably took more than a half an hour to get from the park to the Capitol. And I can walk really fast. I walk five to six miles a day. So but you could not move because there were so many people. And people were chanting USA. And you know, just again everybody being very kind to each other and no problems along the way. I will say there were people who a couple of times chanted the F expletive Antifa.

Then we got over to the Capitol and there were so many people that were outside the circle around it that you didn’t really even know what was going on. By the time we got there, there were people on the steps of the Capitol. But nobody really thought anything of it. And then after we got closer into that inner circle and we could see that there was some smoke on the balcony and we couldn’t really tell what was happening.

A metro police officer told us, said I would advise you not to go there, over there. And he said there’s trouble And I said, well, what do you mean by trouble? He said, well citizens. And I said but what kind of citizens what do you mean? And he wouldn’t elaborate on anything. So we walked over just to see more of what was happening and we could see smoke bombs going off and tear gas. The fire extinguishers were being sprayed, but I think that was by protesters.

Part of the reason it looked so strange was that they were setting up for the inauguration. And that’s why the fencing was up because they’re putting all the stuff out there for that. So there were people calling with a bullhorn saying move forward or else they’re going to push us out of here and come up onto the bleachers.

I mean, this is somebody with a bullhorn and the only person you could hear and that’s all they were saying was move forward, move forward. Nobody was telling anybody to go into the building or breach the building. And I would have to say that anybody who was over there was already there and got into the building was already there and had that planned much earlier. Because you could not have walked from where we were to get over there in that amount of time.

Leahy: So the people in the front, were they Trump supporters? There have been some reports that they were Antifa wearing Trump gear. Do you have any indication one way or the other as to who the people at the Capitol were?

Baigert: All I’ve seen is what’s been on social media. So you know, I don’t put any faith or stock in that. There was someone reporting from The Blaze last night. There were many people on the ground from Blaze TV that were interviewing people on that. They were Trump supporters. But the thing that you need to understand is that we have people with us who were here in 2010 during the Tea Party and Glenn Beck’s rallies and there were like a million people here.

And they said there was every bit as many people there and maybe more yesterday. How many people went into the building? 20 or 30? This is not the typical Trump supporter. None of us would sanction this. I think it’s just starting to be resonating with us this morning, as we think about it, is that this is the people’s House. As soon as we start going down the path of we have no right to be there to see our elected officials doing the people’s work we have born into the wrong argument here.

And this is much different than what happened over the summer where private property was destroyed. Somebody was killed yesterday. Did we riot? Burn anything down? Or damage anything because she was killed? That’s one of us. And another really disturbing thing is the Democrats and many of the Republicans went and sanctioned and endorsed this kind of behavior with breaching the Capitol when Kavanaugh was being sworn in.

Leahy: That’s a very very good point. Laura Baigert, thanks so much. And be safe coming back here to Nashville. We really appreciate your report.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Trump Rally” by Elvert Barnes. CC BY-SA 2.0.









Second Avenue Owner of Simply the Best and Ensemble Geoffrey Lee Discusses the Loss of His Businesses in Nashville Downtown Blast

Second Avenue Owner of Simply the Best and Ensemble Geoffrey Lee Discusses the Loss of His Businesses in Nashville Downtown Blast


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Nashville small business owner Geoffrey Lee to the show to discuss the loss of his businesses in the Christmas day bombing and the lack of support from local and state governments.

Leahy: We are joined now by Geoffrey Lee who is the owner of two small businesses called Ensemble and Simply the Best. He is a small business owner whose businesses were destroyed by the Nashville bombing on Christmas day. Good morning, Geoffrey. Thanks for joining us.

Lee: Good morning, Michael. How are you?

Leahy: Well, you know, it’s a troublesome day and it’s been a troublesome week. It’s been a troublesome previous year and 2021 is not starting off well. Of course, for you, Christmas Day did not start off well at all. Tell us what your Christmas morning was like.

Lee: Well, Christmas morning started out well. I was out back smoking a brisket at about 4:30 a.m. in the morning and my wife came running out at about 6 am and said that there had been a camper explosion. And you know, it’s Second Avenue so we were used to things happening. And then she came back out and said you’ve got to see this and it was horrific. I mean we realized that both of our stores, Ensemble was basically at ground zero, and the other store the $10.00 Boutique was up the street and it was obvious that in a blink of the eye we’d lost everything.

Leahy: So you don’t live on Second Avenue you live elsewhere in the city? Is that right?

Lee: We live in Mount Juliet.

Leahy: Okay, so you’re out there in Mount Juliet and you see this. What do you do after you see this happen?

Lee: Pray. (Chuckles) We knew that we couldn’t get in the car and get down there because it was obvious that everything was blocked off. And so we sat riveted to the TV and watched it unfold and it was horrible.

Leahy: What time did you finally get to take a look at what remained of your businesses?

Lee: Well, actually Michael we haven’t to date. Both of our buildings are in what they call the red zone which means that the buildings are unstable. The one building had collapsed in on itself. So there’s nothing to see. And the other building is deemed unsafe. So we have really not been able to see our stores. The first responders have pulled a couple of things from the front of the store that was not damaged in the bomb blast, which is incredible. But as far as seeing it we haven’t been there.

Leahy: So tell us a little bit about what each store had, what you sold, and how much business you would have at each one. Describe each store for us, please.

Lee: Simply the Best $10. The boutique is really iconic on Second Avenue. It’s been there for 11 years. It caters to the tourists. The tourists will come in and they love it because it’s all one price point. They grab their souvenirs. If they forgot a belt they grab a belt and if they need a scarf they got a scarf. So it was kind of like a go-to destination. The local concierge would send visitors to Nashville to the other store Ensemble, which was two doors up is a ladies fashion boutique fashion and accessories and it’s catered to easy to wear stuff.

Leahy: Now you started the first business called Simply the Best 11 years ago. When did you start Ensemble?

Lee: Six years ago.

Leahy: So did put your whole life savings into both these businesses?

Lee: Yes.

Leahy: So where do things stand now? Do you have insurance? Do you have any government assistance? What’s your plan for your businesses now?

Lee: We do have insurance and thankfully it was not deemed domestic terrorism because that helps a great deal. and President Trump declared a national disaster zone so that helps with taxation. As far as other help we’ve had individuals reach out to us. We’ve had the downtown visitors bureau reach out to us.

We want to rebuild but we also are a realist and know that rebuilding where we were at is not going to happen. I mean, the buildings that we lost will not be salvaged. I mean they might salvage the front but that’s many years in advance. So we want to rebuild. We don’t know – we’re in a holding pattern right now.

Leahy: Now, did you own the building?

Lee: No, we don’t. We lease the building from a group out of Savannah, Georgia.

Leahy: Great. Can you hold through the break? We want to talk more about your plan to recover and what Nashville can do to help you.

Lee: Sure.

(Commercial break)

Leahy: We were talking and you said you do have insurance. You haven’t been able to go back there yet. The inventory in the stores is basically gone and not usable?

Lee: Completely. I mean that the fixtures the inventory everything is gone. One building collapse in and of itself. So it’s just rubble right now and the other one the blast went through it.

Leahy: So it’s gone. And you do have some insurance. Have you received the insurance proceeds or that in the process right now?

Lee: It’s all in process.

Leahy: What percentage of what you need to start again are you going to are you getting from insurance?

Lee: Well, it’s really up in the air, Michael, because some of it comes down to basing your profitability on last year, which was a COVID year when we were down 65 percent versus the year before which is a true number. So there’s a lot of moving parts with regard to the insurance. So we don’t really know.

Leahy: The likelihood that you’re going to get enough back on insurance so that you can start again is what? What’s the probability you’ll get enough or maybe be a little bit short?

Lee: It will definitely be short. Particularly because of our insurance policies. I mean, like so many people we really didn’t keep up with them as we should have. When we started in 2011 the costs were quite a bit less than they are now. And especially with Nashville being the ‘it’ city is in a premium downtown.

Leahy: So do you have a plan for securing enough capital open again? Will you open both stores? And if our listeners are interested in helping is there a way that they can do that?

Lee: Yes, we’re going to start with one store. We would open up Simply the Best again, and we’re just looking for space. As far as help, we have a GoFundMe page and it can be found on

Leahy: How much have you raised so far?

Lee: We’ve raised almost $30,000 right now.

Leahy: Well, that’s a start, isn’t it?

Lee: That’s a good start. That’s a good start.

Leahy: But significant capital is required to open such a business. I think your plan makes an awful lot of sense. Geoffrey, you need space. Where are you looking for space right now? Now, what would make sense? Somewhere downtown?

Lee: Our business model is really based on tourism. So we’re looking in the downtown corridor. We’ve got a real estate agent that’s helping us. And hopefully some other business owners as far as those that own buildings downtown will reach out, also.

Leahy: And you need street level right?

Lee: We do.

Leahy: How many square feet are you looking for?

Lee: We’re looking for about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.

Leahy: What’s the market like? Are there retail spots available outside the blast zone that might make some sense for you guys?

Lee: It’s tough. It’s too early to tell. Most building owners would rather lease to larger honky-tonks and what – not just from a revenue standpoint. And we get that. So it will difficult, but we have complete hope and faith that it will happen. And I guess we move on from there.

Leahy: Well, it sounds so that when you’re operating in a non-COVID environment. The Simply the Best $10 products that are tourist-oriented sounds like that would be you know something that would have you probably having decent revenue.

Lee: We had great revenue there. Yes. It was a wonderful situation.

Leahy: So let’s assume you do find a place. If there’s somebody that owns retail property out there right now and they’re looking for a tenant, how do they get in touch with you? What’s the best way to connect with you?

Lee: The best way is through my cell phone at 615-944-4062.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio